Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wholesome Hides are the Best Rawhides

I recently read a 2009 article from the Whole Dog Journal about rawhide chews. Everyone is concerned about imported dog products, especially those from China. I don't buy rawhide chews for Brisbane very often, but I have only ever bought ones that were made in the USA. I knew that imported rawhide has been processed with more chemicals and has a greater chance of being contaminated with something that could hurt my dog.

Photo by Erin Koski
This article, "Finding the Right Rawhide Chew for Your Dog", neatly filled in the gaps in my knowledge and gave me a whole lot more information about rawhide and the process of turning into chew toys. Basically, the USA is the world's largest producer of beef and cow products, so the hides come from here. Domestic manufacturers have access to fresh hides, turning them into dog chews is a fairly simple and straightforward process.

Foreign manufacturers must have hides shipped to them from overseas, and a large part of their dog chew manufacturing process involves first undoing what time and decay have done. This process involves a lot of harsh chemicals and plenty of opportunity for the rawhide to become contaminated. The phrase "black with rot" really stuck with me, apparently "basted" and flavored rawhide chews have been prepared that way to hide the effects of decay. "American" rawhide isn't always safe, either. Often the fine print reveals that the product is actually "made in China from American beefhide" like every other rawhide chew.

Finding domestic rawhide is a good first step, but a chew that is free from processing chemicals is not necessarily safe. The author of the article points out the danger that small chunks of unchewed rawhides pose. Knotted bones almost always have separate, smaller pieces of rawhide forming the knots. Rolls are often a single large piece stuffed with random chunks that are prone to falling out and getting gobbled up.

So which rawhides are the best out there? The article helpfully pointed me toward Wholesome Hides. These are domestically produced, and designed to keep dogs chewing happily and safely for a long time. The rolls are made from one big, fat piece of hide that has been rolled up tightly, so there are no smaller bits that can be easily removed. This makes the chew much more difficult to destroy, and makes dogs work very hard without ever swallowing more than a tiny bit at a time. I originally bought some for Josie, and Brisbane enjoys having a gnaw now and then. He usually ends up scraping his nose.

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